within minutes of the decision to postpone the boston build-up 25k, emmy came up with this incredible alternative: the colchester half marathon. this is a brief description from the race flyer:
"13.1 hilly miles, there will be three water & Gatorade stations, professional timing, mile marks painted on the road, volunteers on every turn, lots of hills, dirt roads, cows, rural scenery, and more hills."
the course was hilly, but the high winds were the real challenge. i finished in 1:37:44 and emmy finished in 1:40.
here is my race report; and here are the results from coolrunning.
here are some photos:
emmy and luanne.
me, w/a post-race root beer :D
emmy and vicky.
bekke and joe.
bekke and emmy.
bekke, emmy, and andrea.
Saturday, February 28, 2009
deja vu? wasn't this the story line for the postponed boston build-up 15k last month? well another nasty weather forecast led jim to decide on this postponement:
"Due to the predicted snow, ice and sleet, the Boston Buildup 25km will be postponed until next Sunday, March 8, at the same time, 9 a.m. (remember Daylight Saving Time begins that morning - set your clocks ahead Saturday night).
We are sorry to postpone the race this far in advance, but need to do so in order to avoid paying rental and custodial fees for the school. Also, this will allow people to alter their training schedules accordingly, getting in a long run tomorrow before the storm is set to arrive.
This decision was not arrived at easily or lightly, but if the predicted snow/ice/sleet arrives as predicted, roads will be hazardous for runners driving to the site as well as during the race. Directional arrows and signs would be difficult or impossible to see on a very complicated course, and the possibility of hypothermia, for race workers as well as participants, would be high.
In the 31 years of the Boston Buildup Winter Series I can not recall postponing TWO races in the same year, so this is an unprecedented situation. I guess we got spoiled by the last couple of winters."
definitely better safe than sorry!
unfortunately for me (and a small band of intrepid runners), the rescheduled date conflicts with the celebrate life half marathon - arrgh! well, those are the breaks... the rescheduled 15k conflicted w/the manhattan half (and opted for the manhattan half). the 20k conflicted with the bronx half (and opted for the 20k)....
my march race schedule is not even a day old, and it's already in re-write mode :0
here are the race photos from the 25k!
here is a video clip and media coverage of the 25k.
here is my race report.
Friday, February 27, 2009
Thursday, February 26, 2009
just finished putting together my race schedule for march - and it already had a switch, of sorts. had tentatively planned to start the month with the caumsett park 50k, but on the heels of the albany winter marathon last weekend, the boston build-up 25k makes more sense (and, if the forecasted bad weather arrives on sunday, will spend half the time outside).
3/8 - boston build-up, 25k -[rescheduled from 3/1]
3/14 - nyrr 8000
3/15 - trrc st. patrick's day 10k
3/22 - nyrr colon cancer 15k - [registration closed, volunteer opportunity]
3/22 - spring equinox 8k - [dns]
3/28 - wurtsboro mountain 30k
3/29 - scarsdale 4 miler -[w/katie]
except for the celebrate life half marathon (which will be my first time), all the races are old friends - so to speak. i've run each one multiple times over the past few years. the celebrate life half, which does a loop of wolfe lake in sullivan county, takes place in the shadow of one of my all time favorite races, the wurtsboro mountain 30k.
the shortest race this month, the st. patrick's day 10k, is a club event. with some luck, post-race beverages may include beer :D
of the pair of 15k's in march, the scarsdale road race is a surprise addition (and another of my favorite - albeit hometown - races). it's often held the first weekend in april - so the earlier date lets me get it on the calendar.
not even a day old and i'm already revising this thing! first off i discover to my utter shock that the nyrr colon cancer 15k has filled! unbelievable! seems like my procrastinating ways have caught up to me w/a vengeance! first boston closed, and now this bit of unpleasantness - arrgh! on the bright side, it presents a volunteer opportunity.
then weather concerns lead to the postponement of the boston build-up 25k until next weekend! that is another bummer because the new date conflicts with the celebrate life half marathon - ironically, the only "new" race on this month's schedule. this will be a tough choice.
hard choice, but have to go with the rescheduled boston build-up 25k this weekend. and since i got closed out of the colon cancer 15k, i just registered for the nyrr 8000. still considering volunteering at the 15k, so it could satisfy the nycm guaranteed entry requirment.
just added the spring equinox 8k to the schedule. from no 8k's in years, to a pair on back to back weekends following the nyrr 8000! also, will probably switch from the scarsdale 15k down to the 4 miler and run that one with katie!
today, february 26, would be johnny cash's (1932-2003) 77th birthday. i'm new to the johnny cash fan base - having gotten turned on to his music via "walk the line," a great biopic that i watched last year. even more intense was the documentary, "johnny cash at folsom prison," which i was lucky enough to get as a christmas present.
last night i listened to that album during my 6 mile run. i even managed to catch some of the "johnny cash's america" special on the biography channel (which had to give way to the season finale of "top chef" - congratulations hosea!!). i'm also toying w/the idea of getting "walk the line" back from netflix - but joachin phoenix's increasingly bizarre behavior (and the suspect career change from actor to rapper) - gives me pause ;)
so happy birthday to you (up in heaven, i'll presume), johnny cash!
update: check out my book review of: michael streissguth's "johnny cash: the biography"
Wednesday, February 25, 2009
today is ash wednesday, the first day of lent. aside from weddings and funerals, i can generally count the number times i attend church services during a given year on one hand. ash wednesday is one. the ashes themselves just highlight a day that should be spent focused on repentance (and, for some observant christians, may include fasting to varying degrees).
this morning before coming to the office, i went to st. peter's church on barclay street and, after a short mass, received my ashes.
yesterday, katie and the kids in her confirmation class volunteered at the shrove tuesday pancake dinner (a sort of lent prequel, if you will). tonight they'll attend church service and receive ashes.
Tuesday, February 24, 2009
it's hard to believe emmy, rob and i actually ran the albany winter marathon (instead of the cherry tree 10 miler) on sunday. not because of the race itself, but rather the weather conditions from start to finish were just plain nasty. we dodged a major snowstorm - and were left, instead, with unrelentingly raw, wet conditions. after a brief "dry"start to the race, we had, for varying periods, snow, sleet, rain, occasional dry spots, and wind - all under gray and dreary skies. amazingly, despite the lousy weather, we still had a great time!
the marathon basically consisted of 4 loops of the suny albany campus. the first loop was slightly different than the last three. we had a marker at the first mile, then at each 5 mile increment. a three person relay took place concurrently with the marathon, otherwise the starting field seemed an optimistically large group of people planning to run 26.2 miles in those conditions! i don't remember who told me this - "the course is flat" - but that was flat out wrong! there were a couple of decent hills lurking along the course.
i had planned on a 3:30 target for this event. originally, that goal was simply to re-qualify for boston. with boston 2009 closed, that didn't really matter any longer. now it would essentially be my first long run of the training year. in fact, it would be the longest distance i covered (either in training or at a race) since the stone cat trail marathon 3+ months earlier. my longest runs and or races since have been half marathons. even with post-run mileage tacked on, i haven't logged more than 20 miles in a given day in a long time. pretty pathetic :(
with that serious short-fall in training mileage hanging over me, i decided the best course of action would be an 8 minute pace for the first 20 miles - and then just pray for the best for the last 10k. with a 20 mile split of 2:42, i just about met that target.
here are those splits:
the last 6.2 miles, however, were another story. i seriously debated pulling the plug on my race at 20 miles because i was soaking wet, cold, and a decidedly unhappy camper. i wasn't short of energy, but i lacked any desire at all push on for the final loop. i had seen emmy and rob only once during the last 2 and a half hours - and had run the entire race to that point without uttering a word to another person (except "thanks" to the many volunteers out on the course). the only time i stopped moving forward during the entire event was at this mental low point.
after a minute or two of wallowing in self-pity, i mentally slapped myself - just like cher did, physically, to nick cage in "moonstuck" - and said "snap out of it!" somehow i restarted the running and went back out for the last loop. the final 3 miles or so were somewhat comical as two other runners and i played hopscotch - taking turns running out into the lead, walking a bit as the next runner took point, and the next, and so on.... amazingly, it got the job done!
here are the final splits:
instead of waiting for emmy and rob to finish, i made a beeline for the athlete building. my poor conditioning was apparent when i made it back inside and found that my calves seized up as i changed into dry clothes. i suffered thru the most painful post-race 10-15 minute stretch in recent memory. finally, i walked it off, and managed to enjoy some post race soup (and even collected a finishers certificate). emmy and rob even managed to squeeze in post-race showers before we headed home.
but the real post-race highlight was the small detour we took over to the evans brewing company at the albany pump station. nothing erased the memory of all those wet dreary miles as quickly as the burger and beers did (okay, well maybe a hot shower - but mine had to wait until i got home).
here are my race photos.
here is emmy's race report (w/photos).
Monday, February 23, 2009
after the albany winter marathon emmy, rob, and i headed over to the evans brewing company at the albany pump station (10 minute from the race site) before we made the drive home.
the highlight, for me, was a terrific sampler of the evans microbrew on tap: 7 three ounce glasses of each beer (the only one missing was the hefeweizen)! of the selection, the munich dunkel was by far the stand-out. rob had a pint of the quakenbush blonde, and emmy had a pint of their kick-ass brown ale - both great choices.
should we stay, or should we go?
this cartoon graces the front page of sunday's ny times' arts and leisure section. the cover story, "hey laaaaay!" is an interesting, pulls-no-punches, critcial look at jerry lewis on the day the academy will award him the jean hersholt humanitarian award.
as a huge fan of jerry lewis (and dean martin) i even re-read his short memoir, "dean and me (a love story)," when i read the news.
so it should come as no surprise that this was my favorite moment at the oscars last night. introduced by eddie murphy, here is jerry lewis accepting the award:
another bright spot: "man on wire" won best documentary, following up it's win at the independent spirit awards the night before.
if there was a disappointment? mickey rourke and melissa leo didn't win (as they had at the independent spirit awards) for best actor and actress, respectively :(
Sunday, February 22, 2009
just back from the albany winter marathon. emmy, rob, and i had an incredible pair of adventures driving to and from this race! then there was the marathon itself - run in sleet, snow and rain! the short version: i ran a 3:39, rob ran 3:47, and emmy ran 3:53. after the race we headed over to the evans brewing company at the albany pump station.
here is my race report.
here are the results from the hmrrc site.
check out emmy's race report and photos.
here are some race photos:
Saturday, February 21, 2009
today's independent spirit awards were the last chance to gauge oscar (tomorrow night) chances for the nominees. while best feature film award went to "the wrestler" - it was mickey rourke's acceptance speech for best actor that really made the broadcast! before he even mentioned his own work, or gave any thanks, he made and over the top plea to get eric roberts a role (after a 15 year dry spell).
i'm pulling for mickey rourke to win best actor tomorrow night. the only similar comeback i can think of (in relatively recent history) by an down and out (at the time) actor was john travolta's incredible performance in "pulp fiction!"
in other spirit award wins (for the films i've seen), melissa leo took best actress for her awesome performance in "frozen river." best documentary went to "man on wire" - a spellbinding look at what it took to walk across a tightrope strung between the twin towers. best director went to tom mccarthy for "the visitor." best foreign film went to "the class" (which pat went to see last weekend, and gave it high marks).
here's a bit more coverage from the ny times.
next up for me is a long delayed trip to the theater to finally watch "the wrestler."
update: no oscars for mickey roarke or melissa leo (but, "man on wire" won for best documentary).
brian yaeger's, "red, white, and brew: an american beer odyssey," was one of my "christmas present" books. reading his entertaining stories from the cross country trip he took to visit and eclectically selected 14 breweries is the closest thing in recent memory that made me want to time travel back to my care free post college days - ha! yaegar's trip incorporated sleeping in his car, camping out, crashing at friends' (old and new) houses, and even the occasional stay at a real motel! the tales of the mechanics he employed to get from one place to another were almost as fascinating as the actual brewery visits ;)
yaeger's background includes a double bachelor's degree from uc at santa barbara (in religious studies and russian) and a masters in professional writing from usc (his thesis was, predictably it seemed, on beer). fortunately for the reader, he's not biased and his discussions of the individual beers is objectives and well-informed. that's not to say he didn't point out which ones he liked (and didn't).
as to my own preferences from the places he visited: i loved the material on portand (geary's), san francisco (anchor), and delaware (dogfish head). the other visits were also interesting (mainly for their uniqueness - such as grand teton brewing). but i was permanently sold when he gave a great little shout out to brooklyn brewery (and, who wouldn't).
from the epilogue:
"the cheesesteak [he drove to nyc from philly] fueled me for the rest of the way to new york, for the simple pleasure of going to happy hour with some old friends i rarely get to see. i made some calls, and one by one, they showed up at the brooklyn brewery, where the notorious brewmaster garrett oliver makes beer when he's not hosting food-and-beer-pairing dinners or writing about them."
what better way is there end a beer travel odyssey than in the great state of brooklyn :D
not just about the beers, however, the book is about the personalities behind the behind the beer. reading about the first craft brewers who cracked open the american psyche of canned beer (anchor and sam adams come to mind) is an amazing history lesson. reading about the old line breweries and the efforts to keep family involved throughout the generations is also fascinating. then, too, is the very, very new crowd of beer makers - free of tradition, and willing to experiment for the sheer joy of it (such as dogfish head).
for beer fans of any age (well old enough to drink, that is - because it will make you want to have a beer - or two), "red, white, and brew" is a must-read.
Friday, February 20, 2009
of a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head, on february 20, 2005. sixty-seven years old, hunter s. thompson checked out on his own bizarre terms. this is what he wrote as a suicide note:
"Football Season Is Over"
"No More Games. No More Bombs. No More Walking. No More Fun. No More Swimming. 67. That is 17 years past 50. 17 more than I needed or wanted. Boring. I am always bitchy. No Fun — for anybody. 67. You are getting Greedy. Act your old age. Relax — This won't hurt."
the note was actually written on february 17, 2005 (3 days before he took his life). so putting the gun to his head and pulling the trigger wasn't some spontaneous act of self-destruction.
suicide is a cowardly act. while it may be justified in terminal illness, it's not a realistic answer to life's problems. there is absolutely nothing honorable about it - sorry (the years of catholic school left a mark). even worse, to lamely whine about boredom, "no more fun," cheapens the life you led. i was a huge fan of hunter as a kid. it's very sad that thompson felt the business end of a revolver was the solution to his problems.
last summer i went to see the excellent documentary, "gonzo: the life and work of hunter s. thompson." it was a great film and did an even greater job of capturing his wild times from the 60's and 70's. sadly, however, it managed to avoid the mess his life spiraled down into during the 80's and 90's.
it's worth watching to catch a glimpse of the legend in his prime.
Thursday, February 19, 2009
i finally watched the 4+ hour epic length "che" sunday afternoon. i did this instead of a second run, to log a few extra miles, after the trrc freezer 5 miler that morning. it was part two of my weekend double feature (with "frozen river" on saturday). "che" was on my list of movies "to see" ever since it premiered at the new york film festival last fall. it is really two separate and distinct films: part one, "the argentine," covers the 2 years that led up to the cuban revolution and, part two, "the guerrilla," covers the last 2 years of che's life, as he struggled to foment revolution in boliva.
both parts, shown together with an intermission, is the roadshow edition. after a brief run together, the two parts will be shown as independent films. that, thankfully, is the best way to process this incredibly long production. while i thoroughly enjoyed part one, my overall impression of the combined films was greatly diminished because of part two. together, i'd give the combined "che" a solid "b" (for positively bloated). individually, part one is easily an "a" while part two dropped down to a "c."
maybe my expectations were too high, but the academy was certainly not remiss when it overlooked che at the nominations. one significant weakness is the sheer absence of any background on che the person. the audience, unless previously aware of his bio, would not know about che's upper class background - and how he travelled from that life to one that identified almost exclusively with the campesinos he fought for. to bridge that glaring gap (omission), i'd urge viewers to see "the motorcycle diaries" before "che."
in fact, skip "che," part two entirely. instead, substitute "the motorcycle diaries" as the essential prequel to "che," part one, "the argentine." those two films, taken together, combine for a powerful, synergistic, viewing experience. conversely, the 2+ hours spent watching an aimlessly (painfully) out of place che wander the bolivian countryside, seriously attenuated the power of part one. it's was depressing. not to mention, the most sustained and meaningful dialogue uttered in part two occurred in the last 10 minutes of the film!
politically, this is a 4+ hour che love-fest. it makes no effort to paint him in a negative light or even allude to any unpleasant part of his character. in making him the perfect revolutionary, the filmmakers somehow managed to make fidel castro himself come off as the moderate! he is the one - even if completely insincere - willing to compromise with the political opponents of batista. while che naively asks "why" fidel deigns to meet with them! rather than make che seem committed and unimpeachable, he comes off looking like a clueless rube.
similarly, in part two, are we really expected to believe that che did not realize the extent to which the local population actively helped the government forces? in a total reversal of the political perspective of in part one - where the cuban peasantry was sympathetic to the revolutionaries - the bolivians had no interest in him or his revolution. it's almost lamentable that the officer who questioned him at the end, had to follow up che's answer to why he was there in bolivia with the - quiet, but chilling, rejoinder - "we already had our revolution."
so, imho, the best bet is to watch che's cuban revolution (part one) and skip his efforts to export revolution to bolivia (part two). the even better bet is to start off with "the motorcycle diaries," then watch "che," part one. that combination is an a+
viva la revolucion!
what's old is new again ;D originally, i had planned to run the hmrrc winter marathon instead of the cherry tree 10 miler. i needed a new boston qualifying time and that marathon fit perfectly in my february race schedule. then, in shocking fashion, the depressing news broke that the boston marathon had filled - and procrastinators like me were out luck - argh! thus, i no longer needed to run that particular race (marathon).
instead, i switched gears and penciled in the cherry tree 10 miler. that was the plan, as recently as this saturday (at the sweetheart run), when emmy, don, rob and i decided to carpool down to brooklyn for the race. then my lackluster stretch of training weeks (which just culminated with the lame weekly mileage of 21) made me realize i needed a solid long run. all of a sudden that low-key winter marathon seemed the perfect long training run.
emmy and rob ran this marathon last year and had plenty of good things to say about it. in need of long training run mileage themselves, they also decided to head north to albany. so on sunday morning, instead of prospect park, brooklyn, we'll be at suny, albany!
here are some race photos.
Wednesday, February 18, 2009
the freezer 5 miler is a taconic road runners club event. for me, the race itself was mainly a training run. my prime reason for the trip to fdr state park was to support the club and socialize a bit. the day itself, while cold, was perfect for running. the freezer 5 miler is the second of 2 races that make up the "freezer 5s" - the first one is a 5k.
my time goal for the 5 miler was a sub-35 minute finish. like the stratford sweetheart run the day before, i probably would have been better off skipping the race. i was having a hard time shaking off the chest cold that plagued me during the week. instead of running a few more miles after yesterdays race, i watched a movie ("frozen river") instead. i lined up for the freezer 5 miler with only 16 miles run for the week!
the course would include an almost 1 mile out and back, followed by two loops of the inside park road. there was one notable hill on the loop which we'd climb twice during the race. while i've run a few races at this park in the past, it turned out that this was my first freezer five (either 5k or 5m) race!
here are my splits:
i'm pretty sure that mile 5 was short (and, correspondingly, mile 4 was long). while i picked up the pace in the last mile to squeeze in under 35 minutes, i doubt it was actually faster than my first mile ;D
during the race it was fun to see fellow trrc members out on the course cheering us on (lee, greg, and tom come to mind). before and after the race i said hi to bob (wtc) and greg (sound shore runners) and joe. but the post-race highlight was a toss-up between emmy receiving the trrc female runner of the year award or gary pouring captain lawrence beer from growlers. okay, hands down it was emmy's award - but the expresso stout was the perfect accompaniment :D
at home that afternoon, it was deja vu all over again (sorry yogi) as i skipped an afternoon run and watched the epic length "che" instead. overall, with only 21 miles, it was my lowest mileage week in recent memory! but, thankfully, that lower mileage week helped get the chest cold out of my system - and, finally, behind me!
here are my race photos.
check out emmy's race report and pictures.
Tuesday, February 17, 2009
i'm not sure if running the stratford ymca sweetheart 4 miler was the smartest thing as i recovered from a chest cold (which, strangely, overtook me on the heels of the rain soaked boston build-up 20k last weekend). i had only run 12 miles in the 5 days preceding the race (and would log, after the freezer 5 miler on sunday) a record low (in recent memory) of just 21 miles for the week! wise or not, this race is a lot of fun.
it would be the 3rd time emmy and i teamed up for this race. in 2006, our combined time of 52:27 missed overall first place only 7 seconds! but a repeat of my 25:42 from 2006 was very unlikely. more realistic, this year, was a sub-28 minute target (a target, by the way, more than a minute slower than my two most recent 4 milers).
one great thing about this race is the number of familiar faces. don volunteers at this one every year - and he was the first person i spotted, as he worked at registration. but the biggest surprise was seeing my good friend (and former wtc teammate) sal just outside the field house. sal runs practically every nyrr race on the calendar - but rarely ventures into connecticut. not only did sal make the trip from nyc, but so too did chris (cptc). sadly, he was without his wife (and running partner) bea - who is recovering from a stress fracture.
among the local runners were kate (who teamed up with brian for the race), rob, marty, and sherry - just to name a few. in fact, despite the cold temperature, the organizers announced they had a record turnout for the race. if they are anything like me, the knew there would be plenty of great post-race food to come back to (including minestrone soup). there was just the matter of a hilly course to dispense with first.
despite the short distance, this is one of the toughest 4 milers out there. that's mainly a result of the monster hill that kicks off the 4th mile. it's mentally tough to go all out for the first 2-3 miles and know that climb awaits in the last mile. but, on the other hand, it's only 4 miles and will be over soon enough ;)
here are my race splits:
sadly, i didn't keep it together for the last mile (and walked a good chunk of the hill). not only did i miss a sub-28, but it was almost a full minute slower than my 2007 finish (27:12) on this course. emmy came in just behind me and gave me some grief for walking the hill (she was kidding).
amazingly, emmy and i not only won our age group in the team competition, but our combined 56:19 put us in second place overall. that was ironic because in 2007, with a better combined time, we finished fourth overall in the team competition. as for individual results, chris took 3rd place overall! emmy was the second woman finisher, and won her age group. brian and kate not only took individual age group awards, but also took 3rd in their age group for the team competition! a lot of hardware collected that morning :D
check out my race photos.
check out emmy's race report and pictures.
check out kate's race report and pictures.
next up: the taconic road runners freezer 5 miler.
Monday, February 16, 2009
officially, today is washington's birthday - not his actual birthday (which falls on february 22) but rather the federal holiday to commemorate it. it's commonly referred to as president's day to honor "all presidents (even the lame and disgraced ones)" but most people associate this holiday with presidents washington and lincoln (two great ones) in particular.
for the record, it was the first federal holiday to honor an american citizen. congress tried, unsuccessfully, in 1968, to rename washington's birthday, "president's day" - and expand the focus to include all presidents. in the years since, a dozen states have renamed it.
personally, i'd stick with washington's birthday. don't dilute his legacy. if a other presidents are worthy enough for a day off, why not give each his own special day ;)
Sunday, February 15, 2009
another cold, but great day to race. on the heels of the stratford sweetheart run yesterday, followed up with the taconic road runners freezer 5 miler at fdr state park. managed a 34:52 on the hilly course. the highlight, without a doubt, was the post-race growlers of captain lawrence beer :D
here is my race report.
here are the results from trrc.
here are some race photos.
race day sign-up.
pre-race: leo, emmy, and tom.